Author Archive | Good German

Defining the Supernatural

Juliana Coutinho (CC BY 2.0)

Juliana Coutinho (CC BY 2.0)

Richard Carrier writes:

There is a trend in science and law to define the word “supernatural” as “the untestable,” which is perhaps understandable for its practicality, but deeply flawed as both philosophy and social policy. Flawed as philosophy, because testability is not even a metaphysical distinction, but an epistemological one, and yet in the real world everyone uses the word “supernatural” to make metaphysical distinctions. And flawed as social policy, because the more that judges and scientists separate themselves from the people with deviant language, the less support they will find from that quarter, and the legal and scientific communities as we know them will crumble if they lose the support of the people. Science and the courts must serve man. And to do that, they must at least try to speak his language. And yet already a rising tide of hostility against both science and the courts is evident.

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Direct Brain Interface Between Humans

Surian Soosay (CC BY 2.0)

Surian Soosay (CC BY 2.0)

Via ScienceDaily:

Sometimes, words just complicate things. What if our brains could communicate directly with each other, bypassing the need for language?

University of Washington researchers have successfully replicated a direct brain-to-brain connection between pairs of people as part of a scientific study following the team’s initial demonstration a year ago. In the newly published study, which involved six people, researchers were able to transmit the signals from one person’s brain over the Internet and use these signals to control the hand motions of another person within a split second of sending that signal.

At the time of the first experiment in August 2013, the UW team was the first to demonstrate two human brains communicating in this way. The researchers then tested their brain-to-brain interface in a more comprehensive study, published Nov. 5 in the journal PLOS ONE.

“The new study brings our brain-to-brain interfacing paradigm from an initial demonstration to something that is closer to a deliverable technology,” said co-author Andrea Stocco, a research assistant professor of psychology and a researcher at UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences.

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Richard Dawkin’s Privilege Delusion

Matti Á (CC BY 2.0)

Matti Á (CC BY 2.0)

Rebecca Watson writes at Skepchick:

Well, PZ Myers, Jen McCreight, Phil Plait, Amanda Marcotte, Greg Laden, Melissa McEwan and others have all already said it, but I figured I should post this for the record: yes, Richard Dawkins believes I should be a good girl and just shut up about being sexually objectified because it doesn’t bother him. Thanks, wealthy old heterosexual white man!

When I started this site, I didn’t call myself a feminist. I had a hazy idea that feminism was a good thing, but it was something that other people worried about, not me. I was living in a time and culture that had transcended the need for feminism, because in my world we were all rational atheists who had thrown off our religious indoctrination so that I could freely make rape jokes without fear of hurting someone who had been raped.

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Cops Arrest 90-Year-Old Advocate and Clergy For Scary Crime of Feeding the Hungry

Abby Zimet writes at Common Dreams:

Bound by faith and virtue to resist newly passed “homeless hate laws” in Fort Lauderdale, a 90-year-old homeless advocate and two ministers were arrested by a phalanx of burly cops for resolutely continuing to share food with homeless people in public, part of a “week of resistance” to a growing body of laws there and in at least 20 other cities that criminalize poor people by restricting their panhandling, camping, storing belongings, going to the bathroom and other activities deemed  “life sustaining” to the homeless – that is, essentially, for existing. The ordinance against food-sharing, which went into effect Friday, sparked a call for a week-long series of actions and protests by churches and advocacy groups; among them, Food Not Bombs vowed to mark the law’s passage on its first day, Halloween, by holding their usual weekly food share and greeting the city “with our middle fingers fully extended.”

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The Extinction of Quiet

eric snopel (CC BY-ND 2.0)

eric snopel (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Ilima Loomis writes at openDemocracy:

In 1989, ‘acoustic ecologist’ Gordon Hempton received a grant to document and record the natural sounds of the state of Washington in the USA. He identified 21 wilderness places to record—sites unsullied by the sounds of traffic, aviation, construction, and other human-made noise. Twenty-five years later, only three of those sites remain muted.

Little by little, our world is becoming louder, with the creeping spread of noise pollution infiltrating our homes, our workplaces, and even our wilderness.

Hempton, whose work for the past 30 years has been traveling the world to survey and record natural sound, says he’s seen firsthand how the hum, ping, and roar of modern life has taken over our sound-scapes. By his count, the United States has only 12 remaining truly ‘quiet places,’ which he defines as somewhere you can go for at least 15 minutes without hearing artificial sound at dawn, the hour when sound travels farthest.

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In Gaza, Palestinians Turn Destruction into Artistic Protest

Painting by Palestinian artist Tayseer Barakat.

Painting by Palestinian artist Tayseer Barakat.

Mariam Elba writes at Waging Nonviolence:

As the Israeli war against Gaza unfolded last summer, I wrote about a particular artist who has turned pictures of Israeli bombs falling on Gaza into graphic art of people mourning the destruction below them. Now the destruction caused by the bombs is itself being turned into art. Well-known Palestinian artist Raed Issa has been displaying his damaged paintings that were buried in the remains of his home in front of the rubble of his house. He is part of a group of artists called Eltiqa in Gaza that supports artists in producing art that responds to the realities of daily life in the occupied territory.

In addition, groups of young people are practicing difficult parkour moves among the rubble that remains from last summer. While the artistic exercise routine known as parkour is not new in Palestine, what these youth are doing by practicing it among the rubble of destroyed homes and schools is showing not only incredible resilience, but also constructing a narrative of resistance and endurance.

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What Nobel Prize Winner Barack Obama Doesn’t Want You to Know about Nobel Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai

Russell Watkins/Department for International Development (CC BY 2.0)

Russell Watkins/Department for International Development (CC BY 2.0)

Zack Beauchamp writes at Vox:

On Friday morning [Oct. 10], 17 year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize. Yousafzai’s prize is well-deserved: she’s been a prominent campaigner for girls’ education for years, and survived a Taliban assassination attempt for her efforts.

But women’s education isn’t Malala’s only cause. She’s also waged a prominent campaign on a topic Americans aren’t talking much about nowadays: the drone war in Pakistan.

In characteristically bold fashion, Yousafzai brought these concerns up in a meeting with President Obama back in October 2013 — one that had originally been held to celebrate her commitment to education.

“I thanked President Obama for the United States’ work in supporting education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and for Syrian refugees,” Yousafzai said in a statement after the meeting — before turning to drones. “I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism.

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Facing Up to the Capitalist Within

“Prayers on deck, slaves under the deck—John Newton’s Christian slave ship.” Credit: http://emmock.com/2013/01/22/bible-blog-945/

“Prayers on deck, slaves under the deck—John Newton’s Christian slave ship.” Credit: http://emmock.com/2013/01/22/bible-blog-945/

Georgie Wingfield-Hayes writes at openDemocracy:

It’s easy to blame the economic system for causing social and environmental problems, but what is that system built on? Isn’t it us?

John Newton (1725-1807) is best known for penning the hymn Amazing Grace in the later years of his life as a minister in the Church of England. In 1788 he published a pamphlet entitled Thoughts Upon the African Slave Trade, in which he spoke out strongly against what he called “a disgraceful branch of commerce.” But for much of his life Newton worked on slave ships, including four years as captain of his own vessel taking stolen African men and women to the American colonies.

Newton’s transition from slaver to minister and activist was inspired by one particular event. On a return journey to Liverpool in 1748, a great storm had threatened to sink his ship, and the fear he was forced to face affected him profoundly, changing his views about the people who were imprisoned beneath his feet.

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